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Ultralow Dose of Naloxone as an Adjuvant to Intrathecal Morphine Infusion Improves Perceived Quality of Sleep but Fails to alter Persistent Pain: A Randomized, Double-blind, Controlled Study.

Journal article
Authors Linda Block
Christopher Lundborg
Jan Bjersing
Peter Dahm
Elisabeth Hansson
Björn Biber
Published in The Clinical journal of pain
Volume 31
Issue 11
Pages 968–975
ISSN 1536-5409
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive care
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Institute of Medicine, Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research
Pages 968–975
Language en
Subject categories Anesthesiology and Intensive Care


This randomized, cross-over, double-blind, controlled study of continuous intrathecal morphine administration in patients with severe, long-term pain addresses whether the supplementation of low doses of naloxone in this setting is associated with beneficial clinical effects. All of the study subjects (n=11) provided informed consent and were recruited from a subset of patients who were already undergoing long-term treatment with continuous intrathecal morphine because of difficult-to-treat pain. The patients were (in a randomized order) also given intrathecal naloxone (40 ng/24 h or 400 ng/24 h). As control, the patients' ordinary dose of morphine without any additions was used. The pain (Numeric Rating Scale, NRS) during activity, perceived quality of sleep, level of activity and quality of life as well as the levels of several pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in the blood were assessed. The pre-study pain (NRS during activity) in the study group ranged from 3 to 10. 64% of the subjects reported improved quality of sleep during treatment with naloxone at a dose of 40 ng/24 hours compared with 9% with sham treatment (P=0.024). Although not statistically significant, pain was reduced by 2 NRS steps or more during supplemental treatment with naloxone in 36% of subjects when using the 40 ng/24 hours dose and in 18% of the subjects when using a naloxone 400 ng/24 hours dose. The corresponding percentage among patients receiving unaltered treatment was 27%. To conclude, the addition of an ultralow dose of intrathecal naloxone (40 ng/24 h) to intrathecal morphine infusion in patients with severe, persistent pain improves perceived quality of sleep. We were not able to show any statistically significant effects of naloxone on pain relief, level of activity or quality of life.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivitives 3.0 License, where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.

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